That was a topic still too sensitive for anyone to broach.
“Y-You don’t have to apologize. I’m the one who asked, after all.. Umm…”
Panicking, Tomoe looked around for a different topic, and it was then that she happened to see an A4-sized paper with something printed on it.
That was rare in this day and age, especially, in Kutoria, so she grabbed it to try an change the topic.
“Hey! What is that? Why’d you go out of your way to print something─────Huh?”
Tomoe intentionally spoke louder as she steered the topic away from that bomb she unwittingly set off, and examined that paper.
She figured there must’ve been something special about it since Youko went out of her way to print it.
Of course, it didn’t actually matter what it was, she just needed an excuse to change the topic.
“Ahh, that. That’s the reason why I couldn’t get any sleep. I didn’t have anything to do, so I killed time by analyzing that, and before I knew it, I’d spent two all-nighters on it. Ahaha,” Youko laughed.
She knew Tomoe was being considerate to her, so she was more than grateful to play along, but Tomoe herself was actually already in shock.
“Give me a sec… But, why… Hey, youko, what did you do to this!?”
When Tomoe recovered her senses, she demanded an explanation from Youko.
The thought of needing to be considerate with her had completely escaped her because of how shocking the content on that paper was.
When Youko explained herself, Tomoe realized the other meaning of that ‘image’ and the value that it held.
“…There’s no way… But what if? If so, then he… No, this isn’t enough… Wait, there is! There is one more thing!”
If she wasn’t mistaken, there should be one more thing that could prove his identity.
Inadvertently, her body trembled for a different reason. Was it out of fear? Out of excitement? Or out of agitation?
“Youko, have you shown this to anyone else?”
“U-Uhh… The student council president called first thing in the morning because he had a few things he had to confirm, and he happened to see it. For some reason, he was as shocked as you. I’m pretty sure a professional could come up with a better image, though…”
Youko tilted her head as she wondered why the student council president was so surprised. If not for the situation, she would have looked lovely.
But that was precisely why Tomoe sympathized with the student council president.
It was shocking precisely because they couldn’t do something so simple.
“The student council president, huh… A bit dicey, but that’s still not too bad. Sorry, Youko. I have somewhere I need to be all of the sudden! I’ll drop by again tomorrow!”
She had to use this before it spread.
Before the person himself realized the value of that image.
“You don’t mind if I take this, right!? And make sure not to show the image to anyone! And delete the analyzed file too!”
Tomoe said forcefully with an attitude that wasn’t taking no for an answer.
After Youko nodded, Tomoe completely forgot that she was in the hospital, and she bolted out of the room.
She didn’t bump into anyone, but she completely ignored all the people scolding her from behind.
Despite that she made sure to make a call only once she’d left the building.
『 What is it? I was just freed from all the questioning, so I’d like to rest. Look, I won’t mess up even without you worrying over me, so you don’t need to be anxious. 』
On the screen of the foster was projected the exhausted face of her black-haired childhood friend.
Because he knew the truth behind the incident, and because he was in the battlefield where the students struggled the most, the people from the school had a lot of questions for him – be it by call or in person – even though it was already the second day.
This was also a part of his duties as someone enrolled in the special class, but because of that he struggled to hide the matter regarding the involvement of spiritual abilities.
After all, Tomoe was officially not there with them during the incident.
Fortunately, the mask seems to have already pulled some tricks, and nothing about Tomoe or the members of the Ootsu family were left on the recordings of the field cameras.
“I trust you on that. I’m calling for a different matter. I’ll explain everything later, but you need to come now! Consider it a treat from this childhood friend of yours.”
『 Hey, what are you talking about all of the sudden? 』
“…Tell me, Ryou. What did we manage to do during the incident? Did we accomplish anything at all?”
Tomoe intentionally encroached that subject neither of them wished to broach.
At that, Ryou’s exhausted face quickly transformed into that of displeasure, but he had no words to rebut with.
Even Tomoe herself was biting her lips because she too hated how weak she was.
Of course, no one looked down on them when it came to their grades, if anything, they were considered somewhat better than their peers.
The members of the Delta Team that they fought against had a reputation for being ruffians since their days in the military.
From disobeying orders to violating military regulations to arguing with their peers and civilians, they had so many violations that there was no time to list them all.
Despite that they were able to stay in the military because of their abilities.
It wasn’t until when they brazenly declared their Anti-Earth stance and when their problematic conduct became too much that they were finally cut off from the army.
Those were the kind of enemies that they held their ground against for 10 minutes to ensure the retreat of class 2 – B.
Although they were saved by a mysterious existence, just the fact that they were able to defeat a member of Delta was more than worthy of praise.
“We did what we could, and us being there wasn’t completely meaningless, but…”
They were just children. What’s more, they’ve only just become 2nd year high school students.
Just being able to help others retreat was already a huge merit for them, at least, that’s how the school saw it.
Tomoe was also highly appraised by the three classes, and her unending support of them with her skills was lauded as one of the biggest contributors to their 1st place.
The students didn’t have any other agenda behind their praise. In fact, they even said that they would ask for the teachers to help her instead of rewarding them if she needed help with her grades due to her own little incident, but neither Ryou nor Tomoe was satisfied.
“I couldn’t do anything against the Ootsu. And you couldn’t win against those volunteer army guys either.”
They lost against opponents that they should’ve been able to fight against.
If not for the support of the mask, things would have ended in tragedy.
That feeling of being so powerless lingered within them yet.
“We’re not good enough, not at all… So I want to become stronger, Ryou. But the things that the school can teach me and the things that I can study on my own are almost at their limit. I’m sure that’s the same for you, right?”
Ryou’s face became even unhappier at that, but he nodded.
The things they could learn given their current position haven’t been exhausted yet, but they could already see where those things could take them.
And that was not a level that would be enough for them to reach their goals.
“In that case, hurry up and meet up with me. This is likely… A once in a lifetime chance. If we let this chance go, the method I thought of will become useless!”
There were differences, but Ryou was her childhood friend who inherited a lineage similar to hers, as well as someone who lived in a similar situation.
Although their relationship tended to be stormy, they shared a feeling of camaraderie.
That’s why Tomoe thought it wouldn’t be fair of her to be the only to benefit from this plan of hers.
『…Sigh. Well, there’s nothing new about you being so pushy out of the blue. Alright, I’ll go. Where do you need me? 』
It was curious if he gave in because of how serious his childhood friend was, or if it was merely because he’d never tried to go against her before when she was this pushy, but regardless, he nodded with a sigh, and Tomoe ended the call after telling him where to meet.
When she was about to call the person they needed to meet, her fingers stopped.
“…I’m imagining something weird again.”
This plan of hers was something she just came up with after acquiring that information.
Because that information just happened to connect the various affairs that were supposed to be unrelated.
Of course, this connection was still uncertain, and the lines intersecting them were merely dotted, but…
“When you think about it, it’s supposed to be impossible, but
She had to go with her guts.
Regardless how absurd of a conjecture that may be.
She had to calm down before making the call. This was making her a lot more tense than she’d expected.
She closed her eyes and focused her mind, and when she was sure that she was calm, her fingers moved.
『 What’s the matter? 』
When she realized that she would only be able to hear the voice of the person she called, her enthusiasm deflated.
She’d intended a normal call, but the video wasn’t showing for some reason, meaning the person she contacted had his foster set to sound only.
“Sorry, are you busy?”
『 Not really… You need something? 』
“Y-Yeah, I’d like to meet up and confirm some things with you. About the exam the other day, I mean. You were a substitute examiner, after all────”